This article will instruct you on how to go about writing just about any type of bibliography you could possibly ever need to write, MLA, Chicago style, APA style, and several others. You will be shown how to cite books, magazine articles, websites, encyclopedias, newspaper articles, films, and several other resources.
Included for each is an easily understood model (template) and a real-life example. Now, I will gladly take you through how to do it for each style, step-by-step, let’s get started…
Drafting a Bibliography
The bibliography itself is merely a collection of the resources you’ve used in researching a paper. Everything you’ve taken information from that you did not previously know is considered a source and needs to be cited in your bibliography on the last page of your paper.
The bibliography process needs to start while researching. Keep careful notes of every book, website, and magazine article you read for your paper with the appropriate information from the source noted. You write a rough draft of your paper and you should do the same with your bibliography. For every source you use, note the full title, author, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication.
This is the information that goes into a bibliographical citation and should you use that source in the final paper, you’ll want to have the information on hand, rather than searching for it or merely leaving it off.
When you’re researching your paper and taking notes, cite next to the notes as you write them out. For example, if you were to write out from the World Book Encyclopedia the dates of the Battle of Iwo Jima, all you’ve taken from that source are two dates, something you would likely forget to cite in your bibliography. However, if you write out a quick notation beside your notes, WB, 3, p. 243., you know that the information you used was on page 243 of World Book, Volume 3. When you start writing your bibliography, you won’t have to go hunting for that information.
Styles of Citation
There are numerous styles of citation, based on the major style books used in modern academics. The first, MLA (Modern Language Association) style, is often used for citations in the humanities. English, art, and film papers usually use MLA format, as well as most High School teachers.
For the natural and social sciences however, APA (American Psychological Association) style is used. You’ll find that courses in Psychology, Sociology, and Nursing. Often, economics and business courses will use the same format as it is more suited to the nature of those disciplines than other formats.
Other styles include the CBE (Council of Biology Editors) style and Chicago Style. These are often suited to more specific disciplines. CBE style is used in many of the sciences, while Chicago style is used in varying formats with history and anthropological disciplines.
Each style delivers the same information in the bibliography. However, formatting and presentation are usually different depending on the style you’re working with. It’s important to know that the bibliography for your American Lit paper will be slightly different from that of your Psychology 120 paper.
MLA Bibliographical Entries
MLA format often utilizes a split method of crafting a bibliography. The first half will be a works cited page, in which you list every source you cited within your text. Everything you quoted or paraphrases within your paper will go here with page numbers. The second half is the Works Consulted page, in which you list every other source used to compile your paper in research. Together they form a MLA bibliography.
Bibliographical entries are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. If you go beyond a single line for one entry, indent the second and subsequent lines.
The most basic kind of bibliographical entry is that of a book. For years, most research has been done in books and most of your teachers today, regardless of the amount of internet information available to you, will require book research. Use the following format for entering a book into your bibliography:
Author (last name first). Title of the book. City: Publisher, Date of publication.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, 1998.
In the case of an encyclopedia, your entry will be slightly different. Use the following:
Encyclopedia Title, Edition Date. Volume Number, “Article Title,” page numbers.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1997. Volume 7, ‘Gorillas’, pp. 50-51.
Magazine and Journal Articles
Magazines and journals are often used in topical papers for quoting information you cannot find in an encyclopedia or printed book. Citing a magazine is slightly different from a book however. Use the following format for entering a magazine or journal entry into your bibliography:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Article Title: Subtitle.” Periodical Title volume
(year): inclusive page numbers.
Scelfo, Julie. ‘Accidents Will Happen: ATVs are cool to ride, but thousands of kids are getting
hurt, and some are dying.’ Newsweek May 14, 2007: 59.
Note that the second line of the entry is indented. All bibliographical entries that go beyond a single line must be indented thereafter.
Similar to Journal and Magazine entries, though slightly different, the following should be used for Newspaper entries:
Author (last name first), “Article Title.” Name of newspaper, city, state of publication. (date): edition if available,
section, page number(s).
Finder, Alan, ‘Ivy League Crunch Brings New Cache to Next Tier.’ The New York Times, New York, NY.
(5/16/07): Atlantic Region, Front Page, 1.
Seeing as how many of the sources used today for research are online in some way or another, electronic sources make up more and more of bibliographies. They also have a very specific format. It’s important to remember that electronic entries are often harder to gather information on. If you cannot find all of the necessary information from a website to enter in your bibliography, simply skip the step that you cannot complete and go to the next.
Because internet documents are so easily moved or changed, it’s necessary to include as much information as you can gather however. So, if a document online was originally a print document, be sure to first include the print information for that source. Use the above formats for books and magazine articles.
After print information (or if there is no print information) include as much electronic information as possible. This information should include the Title of the site you visited, the date of publication or most recent update, and the organization or group sponsoring the website.
Finally, include all of the information pertinent to when you accessed the site itself. This includes the date you visited the site and the URL of the website (URL formatting should be done between <> brackets and with no added hyphens, breaks, or gaps).
Here is an example of a print source reproduced online:
Author’s Last Name, First Name. ‘Title of the Document.’ Title of Journal or book. Print Publication
Information. Title of Site. Date of electronic publication or last update. Name of organization or
Institution. Date of Access.
For the use of a professional or personal website without previously published material, use the following:
Creator’s Last Name, First Name. Title of the Site. Description of the page. Organization associated
with the site. Date of electronic publication, copyright, or last update. Date accessed
Occasionally you’ll use other, less common sources for your paper such as films or interviews. In those cases, you still must cite your sources using the following format:
Title, Director, Distributor, Year
Full name (last name first). Occupation. Date of interview.
APA Bibliographical Entries
As the second most commonly used style guide, the APA guidelines are important to know for those in the social sciences. Bibliographies in APA style are subsequently a bit different than MLA style bibliographies.
APA reference pages is a separate page at the end of a longer paper, double spaced and numbered with the paper. Reference entries are indented five spaces from the second line on of an entry (not the first line) and only the last name for the author is given with an initial for the first name. The following four major entries are important to know for APA formatting:
Articles or Chapters in an Edited Book, Two Editors
Last Name, First Initial. (Date) Title of Edited Book. Editor Names (Initial, Last Name), Title of Article
(page numbers used). Location of Publication, State of Publication: Publisher.
Bjork, R.A. (1989) Retrieval inhibition as an adaptive mechanism in human memory. In H.L.
Roedigger III & F.I.M Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory & consciousness (pp. 309-330).
Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Last Name, First Initial. (Year Published). Title. Location of Publisher: Publisher
Beck, C.A.J. & Sales, B.D. (2001). Family meditation: Facts, myths, and future prospects.
Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
Electronic References – Website
Title of Document (date published). Date accessed, [from] website address (there are no periods at the
end of electronic citations)
GVU’s 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from
Electronic References – Newspaper article
Last Name, Initial. (date published). Title of Article. Newspaper Title. Date accessed, [from] website
Hilts, P.J. (1999, February 16). In forecasting their emotions, most people flunk out. New York
Times. Retrieved November 21, 2000, from http://www.nytimes.com
Last Name, Initial. (Date). Title of Article: Subtitle. Title of Periodical: Section of Periodical, Page
Herman, L.M., Kuczag, S.A., III, & Holder, M.D. (1993). Responses to anomalous gestural
sequences by a language-trained dolphin: Evidence for processing of semantic relations and syntactic information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 122, 184-194.
Chicago Style Bibliographies
The Chicago Manual of Style is used largely for papers in which a teacher or professor expects there to be footnotes for each reference or citation throughout a paper. For that reason, a bibliography is often simply a recitation of the footnotes, organized alphabetically. The footnotes and bibliographical entries are not always exactly the same however. The following rules should be used for entering citations in a paper under the Chicago Style rules.
Last Name, First Name. Title. Location: Publisher, Date.
Doniger, Wendy. Splitting the Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Last Name, First Name. ‘Article Title.’ Journal Title Volume Number (Date): All Page
Numbers Used in Paper
Smith, John Maynard. ‘The Origin of Altruism.’ Nature 393 (1998): 639-40.
Last Name, First Name. ‘Article Title.’ Newspaper Title, Date, Section of Paper, Edition.
Finder, Alan. ‘Ivy League Crunch Brings New Cache to Next Tier.’ New York Times, May 16,
2007, Front Page, Atlantic edition.
Website Section, ‘Page Title’, Website Name, http://webaddress, Date accessed.
Writing Center, “Chicago/Turabian Style,” The Writing Center at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill, http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/chicago.html, Accessed
20 December 2005.
A simple tool that’ll do all this for you
There’s a very simple bit of software that I actually use to do all of this for me called StyleEase that makes it about 90% easier AND faster, it pretty much automates the whole process of writing a paper in a certain style (including the bibliography), check it out:
Additional Styles and Resources
Writing a bibliography is vital to a good paper and if you were unable to find the information you needed here for your paper, there are dozens of great resources online that will help you. Not only beyond the three major styles, but the four or five major citations sources, there are dozens more that you might need to utilize. Each of the major Style Guides; MLA, APA, and CMS all have online guides to assist you in writing your bibliographies and ensure your papers are top notch.